Learn "J" leans, "C" leans, hip snaps and a strong, proper, forward stroke with these exercise routines!

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Working with the Pilates Ball



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When learning the art of sea kayaking, the main focus for beginners and novice paddlers is the ability to maintain balance while in the kayak.
For most paddlers', just starting out in the sport, this can feel a lot like walking on a tight wire hundreds of feet off the ground. Even an advanced paddler, after a long season off the water, may feel a little "tippy" their first day back in the boat.

Working on "leaning" and "edging", J leans and C leans, can really push the beginner and novice to their limits. The trick is to train the inner ear to find its "center" while performing these tricky balancing acts.
The following exercises will help in training, not only, the inner ear but the whole body as well. These are great exercises for fine tuning maneuvers and offers off season maintenance.

Working on the Forward Stroke: (Endurance & Balance)
Begin by sitting ontop of the pilates ball (inflate the ball so it is very firm) with a paddle, broom stick or long dowel in hand.
FORWARD STROKE TRAINING ON A PILATES BALL

Start the exercise with both feet shoulder width apart for balance. As you advance in your technique, bring your feet closer together. The goal is to perform this exercise with the feet crossed.
Find your hand position on the paddle by placing the loom on your head. Now, with your upper arms horizonal, move your hands until the forearms are vertical.

FORWARD STROKE TRAINING ON A PILATES BALL

Begin the stroke with the leading arm straight, as if reaching for the bow of the kayak.
The opposite arm should be positioned with the elbow back, just behind the hip, and low with a slight twist in the torso. (As you advance in training you can alter this stroke by bringing the elbow higher.)

FORWARD STROKE TRAINING ON A PILATES BALL

While keeping your leading arm straight, make the paddle pivot in the lead hand by pushing the loom away from your body using the shoulder and tricep of your opposite arm.
Make an effort to not pull the retreating blade back at this point. This will be done by twisting the upper body in the direction of your stroke. ( Note both arms are straight while Teresa is twisting.)

FORWARD STROKE TRAINING ON A PILATES BALL As the body completes the rotation and the new lead arm is fully extended, Begin to bend the elbow of the retreating arm.

(Note the position of the lead blade in this picture, the power face is turned up.)

As you bend the elbow and bring the hand to the shoulder, twist the wrist back to "throttle up" the blade.
FORWARD STROKE TRAINING ON A PILATES BALL This, twist of the wrist, has now placed the blade with the power face down to the water. (Note the rotation of the blade in both pictures.)

The upper torso should be twisted in the direction of your stroke and the chest parallel to the paddle. The leading arm should be straight reaching for the bow of the kayak.

Now, link the strokes together and find your rhythm. Start with a slow pace and, as you become comfortable with your form, begin to pick up the speed. Thirty minutes, at a fast pace, will make a good workout.

J Leans: (Balance & Ab Training)
This exercise will train the abs for good form when doing J leans. While doing this routine, squeeze your abs to hold the position. Go for the burn!
Begin by sitting ontop of the pilates ball (inflate the ball so it is very firm) with a paddle, broom stick or long dowel in hand.
J LEAN TRAINING ON A PILATES BALL Start the exercise with both feet about shoulder width apart for balance.

Place the paddle across the top chest just above the collar bone.
J LEAN TRAINING ON A PILATES BALL

Place the paddle in a "high brace" position keeping the elbows tucked close to the body.

On your bracing side (where the paddle meets the water),make the letter J with your body. Raise the hip by using the oblique muscles of the abs. Keep the head upright and shoulders level.

Hold this position for five seconds.

J LEAN TRAINING ON A PILATES BALL

Swap sides by switching your "high brace" and raising the hip.

While changing sides, try to keep your head an shoulders still.

Hold this position for five seconds and then go back to the other side.

Do this ten times, holding your J lean for five seconds on each turn.

C Leans: (Balance & Ab Training)
Again, squeeze the abs!
Begin by sitting ontop of the pilates ball (inflate the ball so it is firm).
C LEAN TRAINING ON A PILATES BALL Start the exercise with both feet about shoulder width apart or wider if needed for balance.

Place the paddle across the top chest just above the collar bone.
C LEAN TRAINING ON A PILATES BALL

Place the paddle in a "high brace" position keeping the elbows tucked close to the body.

On your bracing side (where the paddle meets the water),make the letter C with your body. Raise the hip by using the oblique muscles of the abs while lowering your shoulder. Try to lay your head over on the shoulder.

Hold this position for five seconds.

C LEAN TRAINING ON A PILATES BALL Swap sides by switching your "high brace" and raising the hip.

While changing sides,lower your shoulder and lay your head over.

Hold this position for five seconds and then go back to the other side.

Do this ten times, holding your C lean for five seconds on each turn.
Hip Snaps: (Balance & Ab Training)
Hip snaps are needed for overall kayak control, righting and recovery. You can't do a sweep or "C" to "C" roll without it.This exercise is done to train the obliques for strong, quick hips snap on demand.
Begin by sitting ontop of the pilates ball (inflate the ball so it is firm).
HIP SNAP TRAINING ON A PILATES BALL Start the exercise with both feet about shoulder width apart or wider if needed for balance.

Place the paddle above your head with the forearms verticle.
HIP SNAP TRAINING ON A PILATES BALL Now raise the hip by using the oblique muscles of the abs while keeping the head and shoulders still.

This is the same as the J lean but don't hold the position.
HIP SNAP TRAINING ON A PILATES BALL Go straight to the other side by raising the other hip. Remember to keep the head and shoulders still.

Alternate sides, back and forth, as quickly as you can. As you raise one hip, push your butt, on the opposite side, into the pilates ball.

Do this fifteen times, counting on one side as you go. Stop. Then repete. Go for three sets.
Crunches: (Balance & Ab Training)
This will finish up your ab routine. In all of the other exercises you have been using the obliques. Crunches will aid in training the upper and lower abs as well.
Begin by sitting ontop of the pilates ball (inflate the ball so it is firm).
CRUNCHES ON A PILATES BALL Start the exercise with both feet about shoulder width apart or wider if needed for balance.
Lay back over the ball, your hands behind your head, letting your back arch over the top. Feel the stretch in your abdominals.
CRUNCHES ON A PILATES BALL Slowly squeeze your abs to "crunch up" into a sitting position. Avoid a sudden "jerk" up, using your arms to pull you off the ball.
While keeping your abs tight, slowly lay back over the ball.
Repete these steps for twenty reps. Do three sets and go for a good burn.

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